The puppet plays are little booklets of play scripts, in manuscript, from the repertoires of German puppeteers in use during the 19th century. It is unusual that these scripts have survived considering the hard use they must have endured as the puppeteers toured throughout the country giving performances. The important fact of their survival is that scholars can examine these scripts and discover new information about the German theater during that period of time.
The following introduction for the puppet plays is used with the permission of the author, Sander L. Gilman, who is a distinguished professor of the Liberal Arts and Sciences and Professor of Psychiatry at Emory University. Professor Gilman had written an article entitled "The Wilhelm Scherer Library: A Bibliography of the Works Printed prior to 1700" in the April, 1970 issue of Archiv from which this excerpt is taken.
Professor Gilman writes: the only other manuscript material contained in the collection was purchased for Scherer by H. Lübke during the latter's search for the Berlin versions of the Faust puppet play during the 1880's. These manuscripts formed the repertoire of the Berlin puppeteer Schlüssel from whom Lübke purchased the texts. From both physical and internal evidence, however, it is evident that the manuscripts were originally the possession of the puppeteer Froloff. This would date them from the first decades on the nineteenth century and would make them the oldest organic collection of puppet manuscripts from the Mark Brandenburg. Except for a diplomatic edition of the Faust manuscript published by Lübke, none of these texts have either been edited or recorded. The following manuscripts comprise the Scherer puppet play collection:
Doctor Johannes Faust's Leben Fanni und Durrmann Die Belagerung von Theben oder die Krigeslist Mathilde Die Zauber Glocke Der Türke in Genua
These puppet plays as well as over 7,500 volumes from Wilhelm Scherer's library are in the Special Collections Research Center, Kelvin Smith Library, Case Western Reserve University. The Wilhelm Scherer Collection was purchased in Berlin, Germany, in January, 1887, by Professor Arthur H. Palmer, then on the faculty of Western Reserve University. As a former student of Dr. Scherer, Palmer was well aware of the importance of his personal library. Professor Palmer raised funds from fellow Clevelanders and traveled to Berlin to purchase the 12,000 volumes from Scherer's widow after his untimely death at the age of 45.
Wilhelm Scherer, Professor of German Philology at the University of Berlin, was a prominent scholar, who wrote influential works on the history of German literature, contributing to scholarship in Teutonic folklore, literature, history and philology. His collection contained many first editions of the foremost German authors as well as significant periodicals and the six puppet plays here on exhibit.
Click on the play's title to link to the .pdf file of the entire manuscript - these are large files so they may take a minute to download.